Your Pretend GM Worksheet

The Mets’ 2011 season is officially over, so it’s now time for every fans’ real favorite part of the year: Pretending to be the team’s general manager. Here’s your worksheet, should you want to plan out ways to make the Mets better. Tip of the hat to Cot’s Baseball Contracts. Let’s cap payroll at $110 million dollars, the total Sandy Alderson estimated as a soft cap yesterday. Starting with the albatrosses:

Guaranteed contracts for 2012:

  • Johan Santana – $24 million dollars
  • Jason Bay – $16 million dollars
  • David Wright – $15 million dollars
  • R.A. Dickey – $4.25 million
  • D.J. Carrasco – $1.2 million
  • Tim Byrdak – $? million

Assuming a $1.5 million dollar deal for Byrdak, that’s about $62 million dollars for six players — but that’s not quite the salary floor, because the Mets still need 25 guys to fill out a roster. If we assume they retain these six players, sign no free agents, offer no one arbitration, and fill out the remaining 19 roster spots with their young players still making the league minimum — which is “only” $8.2 million for all 19 players — the salary floor is now $70.5 million dollars. Assuming Theo Epstein doesn’t have a bit too much to drink one night and trades Jon Lester, Jacoby Ellsbury and cash for Johan Santana and Jason Bay, that figure is about the lowest the Mets payroll could possibly be next season.

But hold your nose, because this is how the cheap-o team would shape up:

Lineup, with salaries in $millions of dollars:

  • C – Josh Thole – $0.45
  • 1B – Ike Davis – $0.45
  • 2B – Daniel Murphy – $0.45
  • SS – Ruben Tejada – $0.43
  • 3B – David Wright – $15.0
  • LF – Jason Bay – $16.0
  • CF – Jason Pridie – $0.43
  • RF – Lucas Duda – $0.43


  • C – Mike Nickeas – $0.41
  • IF – Nick Evans – $0.43
  • IF – Justin Turner – $0.43
  • OF – Mike Baxter – $0.41
  • OF – Kirk Nieuwenhuis – $0.41


  • LHP – Johan Santana – $24.0
  • RHP – R.A. Dickey – $4.25
  • LHP – Jon Niese – $0.45
  • RHP – Dillon Gee – $0.43
  • RHP – Chris Schwinden – $0.41


  • RHP – Bobby Parnell* – $0.45
  • LHP – Tim Byrdak – $1.5
  • RHP – D.J. Carrasco – $1.2
  • LHP – Daniel Ray Herrera – $0.43
  • RHP – Josh Stinson – $0.41
  • RHP – Pedro Beato – $0.43
  • RHP – Dale Thayer – $0.41

Bobby Parnell may or may not be eligible for salary arbitration; he’s close to the cutoff, which is why he’s been asterisked. There are a handful of Mets players who are close to the shadowy two-year/three-year cutoff for first-time arbitration, so we’ll see what happens to them this winter. It is worth considering that the 2013 Mets will see Josh Thole, Ike Davis, Daniel Murphy, Jon Niese and Bobby Parnell all hit arbitration for the first time that year, making them far more expensive and cutting into the team’s flexibility next next-season.

Anyway, that is . . . not a very good looking Mets team. Even with great health and optimism, it’s looking like a 77-win squad. (Knowing that I am biased, you should really subtract a couple of wins off that total.) At the very least, I think we’ve established that Sandy Alderson should sign some free agents. At least one. If you want to play pretend-GM, that’s your $70.5 million dollar, 70-something win blank canvas. You have $40 million dollars left to spend.

First things first, your arbitration players. Taking a look at the players eligible, with salary estimates:

  • Mike Pelfrey – $5 million
  • Angel Pagan – $5 million
  • Ronny Paulino – $1.5 million
  • Taylor Buchholz – $1 million
  • Manny Acosta – $1 million
  • (Bobby Parnell – $1 million)

If the Mets offered contracts to all these players, it would marginally improve their lineup, bench and rotation at the cost of about $12 million dollars. Bringing back all these dudes makes the Mets an (optimistic) 80-win team with good health and average luck, bumping the payroll up to $82 million dollars. Keeping with the $110 million dollar cap, that leaves the team with about $28 million dollars in flexibility left over — really not that bad, considering they had $10 million to work with last season.

Of course, if you add in this:

Jose Reyes – $20 million

Now you’ve got an (optimistic) 85-win team with $8 million left to spend. Considering injuries and the tough NL East, it’s probably closer to a .500 team, maybe a tick below. It’s basically this season’s team, assuming better health and luck, but without half-seasons from Carlos Beltran and Frankie Rodriguez, and Johan Santana replaces Chris Capuano.

And you still need to fix the bullpen, improve the defense, add middle infield depth, outfield depth and depth in the rotation. I’m stumped already. Being a fake GM is hard.

That’s just the starting point for Sandy Alderson and the Mets though. They do have about $28 million to spend on free agents this winter — the question isn’t “if” they can afford Jose Reyes, because they absolutely can afford him, but rather “if” they want to pay him that much money. Re-signing Jose Reyes wouldn’t leave the Mets with much financial wiggle-room, and he’s not going to push them into the postseason next season all by himself.

But there you go, pretend-GMs. You have $28 million to spend on free agents, a bit more if you non-tender some players. That’s what the Mets are working from. Open up the MLB Trade Rumors free agent list, like I am right now, and pretend-GM away. It’s all we can do until pitchers and catchers.


Filed under Mets, Words

2 responses to “Your Pretend GM Worksheet

  1. Thanks for this primer for all of us arm-chair GMs to start our off-season arm-chairing.
    That said, here are a couple of “creative” ideas to consider with the payroll:

    Trade OF Jason Bay to CWS for OF Alex Rios
    At first, one might wonder why one would move an underachieving & overpaid OF bat for one who struggled even worse in 2011.
    That said, Rios makes 4 mio $ less per year than Bay (12 mio vs. 16 mio in both 2012 and 2013). He does have an extra guaranteed year at 12 mio $ in 2014 whereas Bay “only” has the vesting option or his 3 mio $ buy-out. However, financially, while the overall $$ are pretty much a wash and the length is prolonged for a year, we save 4 mio $ for each the 2012 and 2013 payroll – which should have a lot more space for 2014 to afford Rios at 12 mio then.
    Also, Rios plays much better defense than Bay and did produce a 3.8 WAR as recently as 2010, while topping a 5.0 WAR in both 2008 & 2007. His current (bad) contract was actually handed to him as a Blue Jay by then GM JP Ricciardi, so maybe there´s still some belief in Rios within the Mets´ FO.

    # 2 Sign OF David DeJesus to a 1-year, 4.0 mio $ contract.
    DeJesus also is a solid defensive OF who can play all three OF spots adequately defensively and – save for his subpar 2011 season – has always done well getting OB. He´s somewhat of a hedge against Rios failing to hit and also in case Lucas Duda isn´t able to handle RF or Daniel Murphy – if shifted there – is unable to handle LF (or RF if Duda starts in LF with Bay gone).

    # 3 Non-tender OF Angel Pagan
    With Rios & DeJesus signed, we can save the 5 mio $ on Pagan for 2012. Yes, Pagan may still have the ability to bounce back to his great 1st half of 2010. However, he´s not a fundamentally smart baseball player and pretty expensive for someone we don´t believe in and who barely cracked a .700 OPS.

    # 4 While we´re at it, non-tender C Ronnie Paulino & Taylor Buchholz as well
    Paulino probably makes 2 mio $ in arbitration, money he´s probably not worth. Buchholz can return on a minor-league deal as an NRI if he´s over his issues.

    Overall, with those 4 moves, I´ve created an extra 7.5 mio $ of 2012 payroll room while – hopefully – upgrading the OF defense in the process by bringing in Rios & DeJesus over Bay & Pagan and probably not hurting the offense much at all – considering how little offense Bay & Pagan provided in 2012.

    # 5
    With a max of 35.5 mio $ to spend, re-signing Reyes to a 5-year, 102.5 mio $ deal (5-years of 20 mio $ each, then a 2.5 mio buyout or a 6th year option at 22 mio) easily fits into the budget.

    That leaves 15.5 mio $ to spend on upgrading the pitching staff and potentially the backup C spot.

    Just a few quick ideas:
    # 6 Trade P DJ Carrasco and IF Josh Satin to OAK for P Brian Fuentes (5 mio $ for 2012) and C Landon Powell (prob. 0.75 mio $ in 2012). Overall, this deal adds 4 mio $ to the 2012 payroll, so 11.5 mio left to spend. Powell competes with Nickeas for the backup C spot behind Thole.

    # 7 Sign P Jonathan Broxton to a 1-year, 5.0 mio $ contract.
    With Fuentes & Broxton, we have two relievers with closing experience. One LH, one RH.

    That leaves 6.5 mio $ left to spend – max – in our budget.

    # 8 Trade P Mike Pelfrey (5.0 mio $ in arbitration), OF Fernando Martinez and 3b Jefrey Marte to BAL for P Jeremy Guthrie (7.5 mio $ in arbitration in all likelihood)
    Guthrie & Pelfrey have been pretty similar pitchers over the past 4 years. However, Guthrie has done it vs. better competition with slightly better results. Hopefully the switch to the NL helps him while Pelf & the two stalled prospects get a fresh start in the AL where F-Mart may DH with his bad knees. The salary difference does bring me down to 4 mio $ left to spend.

    # 9 Re-sign P Chris Capuano to a 2-year, 8.0 mio $ contract (4 mio $ in each 2012 and 2013). If Cappy wants to stay without any rotation guarantees, nice. If he´s looking for more, then I offer the same deal to Jason Marquis, Joel Pineiro or Aaron Harang and hope one of them bites. For now, I assume Capuano is happy with the extension and thus stays.

    Finally, your 2012 NY Mets (110 mio $ payroll):

    SP: Santana* – Dickey – Niese – Guthrie – Capuano (or Gee)
    RP: Broxton – Fuentes – Parnell – Byrdak – Acosta – spring training competition between Beato – Stinson – Herrera – maybe Buchholz as NRI for 6th berth – Gee (or Capuano)
    * if healthy
    If Santana has setbacks, both Gee & Capuano are back in the rotation and Schwinden & maybe someone like Batista as an NRI compete for long relief berth.

    1) Reyes, ss
    2) Tejada, 2b
    3) Duda, rf
    4) Wright, 3b
    5) Davis, 1b
    6) DeJesus (or Murphy), lf
    7) Rios, cf
    8) Thole, c

    Nickeas (or Powell), C
    Evans, 1b-OF
    Turner, if
    Pridie, of
    Murphy, of-if (or DeJesus if Murphy starts)

    All in all, I believe this team has a legit chance at 85-win, possibly more if Santana returns close to his 2010 self and / or Ike Davis breaks out instead of breaking his ankle.
    The bench & bullpen feature pretty good depth.
    Plus we also have Harvey, Familia, McHugh, Edgin, Carson, Nieuwenhuis, Havens, Lutz, den Dekker and Lagares closing in at AA or AAA to possibly fill in if needed.

  2. I’d like to point out that even though Reyes’ new contract will likely average out to around $20M per year it is unlikely that he will make $20M in his first year. Contracts are often backloaded and money deferred in these situations to provide payroll flexibility until other contracts(Santana, Bay) are completed allowing the team to pay for the remainder in Jose’s final years (probly around $22M-$23M per year) Just take a look at Santana’s contract on Cot’s for a perfect example.

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